You really don't need lemon balm recipes to use this refreshing plant because you can add it to any dish that would benefit from a little fresh lemon flavor! The picture is one little hint that a few finely chopped lemon balm leaves added to salsa is just one of this herbs many uses. More ideas to follow but let's take a quick look a the plant first.
THE LEMON BALM PLANT
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is a perrenial plant from the mint family that is easily grown in zones 4 - 9. You can recognize it by it's square stem (all members of the mint family have square stems) and by crushing its leaves you'll know that soft, lemony scent. I'll get a picture up for you soon!
Lemon balm flowers attract bees like crazy and it will continue to bud all summer and into fall if you cut back the flowers before they go to seed. You can pick the leaves anytime for tea or lemon balm recipes. If you're going to dry them, hang them and watch them closely as they'll dry quickly!
LEMON BALM USES
As with many herbs, lemon balm has been used medicinally for centuries. It's known to have 8 different antiviral properties, 8 different sedative properties and 12 different antiinflammatory properties! The leaves are also antibacterial, antihistaminic and antioxidant.
Lemon balm has been used to treat:
Some easy ways to get these lemon balm benefits are:
LEMON BALM TEA - Make a therapy tea by steeping a heaping teaspoon of dried leaves or a large tablespoon of fresh for about 15 minutes. Mix with some honey and this is a great tea for children over 2 years old that have a fever or a cold. Of course, it's good for us adults also!
HOT WATER INFUSIONS - Lemon balm infusions have been used historically to treat Newcastle Disease, herpes and even the mumps! To make a hot water infusion fill a glass jar (a canning jar works but I love my coffee press for this!) 1/3 full of the dried lemon balm leaves or about 3/4 full of fresh. Fill the jar with boiling water, cap and let steep for at least 4 hours. The long steeping time brings out much more of the medicinal qualities of the herb.
LEMON BALM TINCTURE - I love making tinctures or extracts as they're sometimes called! A teaspoon of lemon balm tincture added to either warm or cold water is a quick way to make tea without steeping. They last for years and are a great addition to your herbal medicine cabinet! Learn how to make tinctures here!
LEMON BALM POULTICE - Using the leaves as a poultice can help heal small wounds, insect bites and cold sores. In Germany, lemon balm cream is a common over the counter treatment for cold sores! Learn more about making poultices here.
LEMON BALM MOSQUITO REPELLENT - Crush a handful of fresh leaves and rub them on your skin for a natural mosquito repellent! Here's a page dedicated to the pests!
LEMON BALM LEMONADE - This lemon balm recipe makes about 6 cups and has only about 36 calories per cup! Of course, you can add more honey if you like it a little sweeter but that will up the calories. You'll need:
Put the leaves in the bottom of a 2 quart pitcher. Lightly crush the leaves with a wooden spoon or plastic potato masher. Pour the hot water over the leaves and let it steep around 1 hour. After an hour, strain the leaves then add the lemon juice and honey.
Stir it well before serving. Add a small sprig of lemon balm as a garnish if your feeling fancy:) This refreshing tea is wonderful either hot or cold!
LEMON BALM INFUSED OIL
Lemon balm infused in organic olive oil can be used both in the kitchen for culinary uses or for making your own ointments, body creams, etc. Learn about infusing oils here.
IDEAS FOR LEMON BALM RECIPES
Get creative and make your own lemon balm recipes! Lemon balm can be used in any recipes that would benefit from a soft lemon flavor. Just remember to chop it finely. Here's a few ideas:
FUN LEMON BALM FOLKLORE
Lemon balm is said to influence love, healing and success so if your looking for any of the mentioned carry a few sprigs with you!
Lemon balm wine when shared between two "friends" is also said to bring about love. You can make this easily be steeping in wine for several hours, strain, then share with your partner. Fun stuff!
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